Following the rampant surge in copper prices earlier this year, competition amongst miners to supply the metal vital to the green energy transition is fierce.
Global copper supply is dominated by mining giants, with the top 10 companies making up for more than half of the world’s output.
In an unprecedented year marked by disruptions due to the global pandemic, copper mine production was contingent on how each company overcame operational challenges. Chile’s Codelco, by far the biggest copper company, avoided significant impact to its output by implementing a four-phase plan to keep production rolling.
Despite the impact on mining operations, worldwide copper production still surpassed the 20-million-tonne mark in 2020.
Using data provided by sister company MiningIntelligence, we have drawn up our own list of the top copper producers in the world based on 2020 production.
BHP, Antofagasta and Rio Tinto’s global operations were disrupted due to shutdowns, resulting in production halts.
The biggest production rise from the previous year was First Quantum Minerals, whose Sentinel mine in Zambia and Cobre Panama were key contributors to double-digit growth.
Just missing out on the top 10 rankings are Russia’s Norilsk Nickel (456.2Kt), which mainly produces nickel and palladium; Brazil’s Vale SA (355.5Kt), the world’s biggest iron ore miner; and the UK-based KAZ Minerals (305.7Kt).